Formerly Trendy Pasta

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This pasta is delicious. I mean its FREAKING good. Just believe me. I call it ‘Formerly Trendy’ pasta since its got all the major food trends that struck it hot for a short time recently: kale, bacon, butternut squash – all things that made it into a lot of new dishes and on many restaurant menus in the past two years. But…trendy or not, these ingredients are some of my favorite (minus kale which I can only eat cooked or chopped into tiny bits – I think it tastes like tree leaves might taste).

The pasta is sweet, savory, smokey, creamy, and has a tiny bit of spice from the red pepper flakes. It is one of my favorites. It reheats SO well. This recipe makes about 8 healthy portions. My mother was in town helping me with the new baby as I head back to work part-time…and we nibbled on it for lunch and dinner for a couple of days. No-one ever was tired of the pasta – which means its pretty damn good. 🙂 Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 package uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta)or other short tubed pasta of your preference
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 8 bacon slices
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided in half
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine squash and 1 tbps olive oil in a large bowl  or in a Ziploc bag with 1/2 tsp salt and the 1 tbsp black pepper; toss well. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with tin foil (or can use cooking spray). Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.

3. On another baking sheet with foil, lay the bacon flat and cook for 20-30 minutes (cooking times will vary greatly based on the thickness of the bacon). Flip the bacon every 5 minutes to ensure its fully cooked and not burnt.

4. While the butternut squash and bacon are in the oven cooking, place the chopped onion in a saute pan on the stovetop. When the bacon is done cooking, pour off about 2 tbsp of the bacon drippings into the pan with the onion.

5. Cook pasta 7 minutes or until almost al dente. Add kale to pot of pasta (with water) during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture into colander and then pour into large mixing bowl.

6. Pull butternut squash from oven and place into bowl with pasta mixture.

7. Pull bacon from the pan and place onto paper towels to dry and crisp. Once crispy and dried – chop into small 1/2 inch pieces and place into bowl with butternut squash and pasta.

8. Turn the onion/bacon drippings (grease) pan to medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until onion is translucent. When completely cooked, pour into bowl with pasta/kale/butternut squash/bacon.

9. Combine 1/4 cup broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Bring the remaining 1 3/4 cups of the chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Add flour/broth mixture to the boiling broth. Then add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to the broth. Cook and whisk 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir/whisk in 1 cup of light sour cream. Then stir in 1 cup of the cheese – continue to stir until melted.

10. Combine squash, bacon, pasta/kale mixture, cooked onion mixture, and cream/cheese sauce in a large bowl; toss gently. Coat a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray; then pour in the pasta. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the pasta. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.

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Chopping kale – keeping the stems out of the chopped mixture

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Butternut squash in oven to roast

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Raw bacon entering oven to cook

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Cooked butternut squash

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Cooked pasta & chopped kale mixture

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Cooked mixture of pasta/kale in big mixing bowl

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Added butternut squash to pasta mix in large mixing bowl

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Cooking onion in bacon drippings

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Final cooked onion/bacon drippings/red pepper flakes added to large mixing bowl

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Cooked bacon resting on paper towels

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Chopped bacon added to mixing bowl

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Cooking the cheese sauce

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Final mixture of all elements: kale/pasta, bacon, squash, onion, cheese/cream sauce

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Pasta dish entering oven

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Final product – YUMMO!